Vijay was born on 22 June 1974 as Joseph Vijay in Madras (now Chennai). His father S. A. Chandrasekhar is a Tamil film director and his mother Shoba is a playback singer and carnatic vocalist. He had a sister Vidhya, who died when she was two years old. Vidhya's death affected Vijay very much. It has been said by his mother that Vijay, who was very talkative, naughty and hyperactive as a child, became silent after Vidhya's death. His sibling Vidhya's story is depicted in the 2005 film Sukran, where Vijay played an extended cameo.